The Morni hills are off-shoots of the Shivalik range and run in two-parallel ranges from south-east to the north-west. The ranges are divided by the Ghaggar river.
To the south-east of the Morni range, the ground is broken by projecting spurs that nestle two-ancient natural lakes, Bhim Tal and Draupti Tal.
The lakes are located at 28 degree 25′ N and 76 degree 30′ E, at a height of 2000 feet and are seperated by a small hillock. The lakes are surrounded by slopes with terraced agricultural fields on all sides. The higher reaches of the surrounding hills are covered with trees including chil pines. The slopes thus drain naturally into the lakes that overflow into the Tangri rivulet which joins the Ghaggar river. The water of the lakes is used to meet the drinking water needs of the surrounding areas as well as for irrigating the fields. Bhim Tal is the larger of the two lakes and has a water spread of 16.8 hectares and a maximum depth of 4 metres. The gross capacity of the lake is 66.5 hectare metres. The Draupti Tal has a water spread of 7.08 hectares with a maximum depth of 3.4 metres and a gross capacity of 23.67 hectare metres. The morni tals are sometimes collectively referred to as the ‘Tikkar Tal’.
To get an idea of the size of the Morni tals we may compare them to the other well known lakes. The capacity of the man made Sukhna Lake at Chandigarh is 513 hectare metres (down from its original 1074 hectare metres in 1958). The Bhim Tal of Nanital district has a water surface of 63.25 hectares and 18 metre depth. The smallest lake of Nanital, Sattal has a water surface of 17 hectares and 30 metre depth. Naukuchiatal Lake of Nanital district is 40 metres deep.
In the year 2001-02, scientists from the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Kolkatta conducted an ecological study of the Morni taals to assess their suitability for fish production. They found the water alkaline and rich in dissolved organic matter and nutrients. The waters are rich in plankton (dinophyceae being the dominant plankton) and bottom fauna (dominated by chironomids). The basin soil is alkaline, sandy loam. Common Carp is the predominant species of fish that has flourished owing to its hardy nature, tolerance to the cold waters and prolific breeding. P. sarana, L. rohita, C. catla, H. molitrix and C. mrigala are the other varieties. Common Carp and P. Sarana comprise 95% of the catch by the private contractors to whom the taals are auctioned for fish farming by the Haryana Fisheries Department.
Haryana Tourism Department runs a resort by the lakeside. Boating facilities are managed by private contractors. A couple of private resorts also operate from this area. The lakes are located at a distance of 9 km from the Haryana Tourism Resort, Mountain Quail located on the Morni Hill close to the seventeenth century fort of the Meers.
The 19th Century Gazetteers of British India and books refer to the twin sacred tals of Tikkar. Two such references have been reproduced here:
‘ … a large hill tract, known as the Kotaha pargana, … composed of two parallel ranges, the sources of the river Ghaggar. This mountainous region differs widely in its physical features and in the character of its inhabitants, from the level plain at its foot. It is covered by the forest of Morni, in whose midst, enclosed by projecting spurs, lie two remarkable lakes. A hill divides them from one another, but some hidden communication evidently exists between their basins, as the level of either is immediately affected by any withdrawal of water from its neighbour. The people regard them as sacred ; and a ruined temple in honour of Krishna, which stands upon the bank of the larger lake, is the scene of a great annual festival. The village and fort of Morni lie considerably higher up the mountain-side. Below the hills, the face of the country assumes at once the appearance of a level plain. It has, however, a uniform slope towards the south-west ; and near the hills its surface is broken at intervals by the beds of mountain torrents . . .
The Imperial Gazetteer of India (1885); Author: Hunter, William Wilson, Sir
‘In this locality (Kotaha pargana) there are two curious lakes, situated in the extensive forest of Morni, about 2000 feet above sea level, and only a few miles from the town of Kotaha; a hill runs between them but the water in these lakes is always on the same level, perhaps because they are connected by some subterraneous passage. The Hindus regard them as very sacred, and they have several shrines on the margin erected in honour of Krishna.’
The Land of Five Rivers and Sindh (1883); Author: David Ross
In 1868, the British toyed with the idea of supplying water to Umballa cantonment from the lakes of Morni to meet the water shortage on account of declining sub-soil water level and drying of wells.
Indian notes- Francis Roberts Hogg – 1880